And you may be very likely right in what you are saying; but I am
curious to know whether you imagine that temperate men are ignorant of
their own temperance?
I do not think so, he said.
And yet were you not saying, just now, that craftsmen might be
temperate in doing another's work, as well as in doing their own?
I was, he replied; but what is your drift?
I have no particular drift, but I wish that you would tell me whether
a physician who cures a patient may do good to himself and good to
I think that he may.
And he who does so does his duty?
And does not he who does his duty act temperately or wisely?
Yes, he acts wisely.
But must the physician necessarily know when his treatment is likely
to prove beneficial, and when not? or must the craftsman necessarily
know when he is likely to be benefited, and when not to be benefited,
by the work which he is doing?
I suppose not.
Then, I said, he may sometimes do good or harm, and not know what he
is himself doing, and yet, in doing good, as you say, he has done
temperately or wisely. Was not that your statement?
Then, as would seem, in doing good, he may act wisely or temperately,
and be wise or temperate, but not know his own wisdom or temperance?
But that, Socrates, he said, is impossible; and therefore if this is,
as you imply, the necessary consequence of any of my previous
admissions, I will withdraw them, rather than admit that a man can be
temperate or wise who does not know himself; and I am not ashamed to
confess that I was in error. For self-knowledge would certainly be
maintained by me to be the very essence of knowledge, and in this I
agree with him who dedicated the inscription, "Know thyself!" at
Delphi. That word, if I am not mistaken, is put there as a sort of
salutation which the god addresses to those who enter the temple; as
much as to say that the ordinary salutation of "Hail!" is not right,
and that the exhortation "Be temperate!" would be a far better way of
saluting one another. The notion of him who dedicated the inscription
was, as I believe, that the god speaks to those who enter his temple,
not as men speak; but, when a worshipper enters, the first word which
he hears is "Be temperate!" This, however, like a prophet he expresses
in a sort of riddle, for "Know thyself!" and "Be temperate!" are the
same, as I maintain, and as the letters imply, and yet they may be
easily misunderstood; and succeeding sages who added "Never too much,"
or, "Give a pledge, and evil is nigh at hand," would appear to have so
misunderstood them; for they imagined that "Know thyself!" was a piece
of advice which the god gave, and not his salutation of the
worshippers at their first coming in; and they dedicated their own
inscription under the idea that they too would give equally useful
pieces of advice. Shall I tell you, Socrates, why I say all this? My
object is to leave the previous discussion (in which I know not
whether you or I are more right, but, at any rate, no clear result was
attained), and to raise a new one in which I will attempt to prove, if
you deny, that temperance is self-knowledge.
Yes, I said, Critias; but you come to me as though I professed to know
about the questions which I ask, and as though I could, if I only
would, agree with you. Whereas the fact is that I enquire with you
into the truth of that which is advanced from time to time, just
because I do not know; and when I have enquired, I will say whether I
agree with you or not. Please then to allow me time to reflect.
Reflect, he said.
I am reflecting, I replied, and discover that temperance, or wisdom,
if implying a knowledge of anything, must be a science, and a science